Emi was amazing and curated such a wonderful trip for us. Booking was very convenient for us as we had very little time ourselves to plan a whole trip. The one aspect that caused some frustration was that Emi was only reachable by email effectively which makes the process very slow. I think even having one phone call to sort out small details and ask questions would have been much more efficient. In addition, factors outside of our control (big storms that take out internet for a week or Park Ranger strikes) made Emi inaccessible for a week. We certainly don’t blame Emi for this at all, but it did create kinks in the planning process.
Once we were in Patagonia, our local support on WhatsApp Mateo was SO responsive and immediately available when issues came up (a lost reservation at one of the hotels, a lost cab, etc). None of these were the company’s fault but each issue was resolved in minutes. This was such an amazing feature!
Our trip review:
The transitions were seamless and we didn’t have any issues at all! Cab transfers to and from the major airports with local guides was a nice touch but ultimately for those wanting to save money, getting a cab/uber on your own seemed easy in Buenos Aires and Santiago and was likely a lot cheaper. I would therefore offer the transfer as an option. I would definitely recommend the private transfer from Calafate airport to El Chalten lodging. Puerto Natales also has a great cab system, and Weskar lodge can call a cab for you at any time that will be there in 5 minutes. That being said, not having to worry about calling cars was such a luxury. Our Taxi driver in Puerto Natales from the bus terminal to Weskar was really great.
– The bus from Argentina to Chile was very easy but a little confusing at the boarder. We could have used some instruction on what to expect.
English speaking guides:
– We found the guide in Buenos Aires to be helpful, especially because we had just arrived and money changing is quite difficult in Argentina. The English speaking guide in Santiago was not necessary for us, although if you are starting your trip in Santiago it could be nice.
– In general, we felt we did not need english speaking guides for transit purposes.
Airport timing: We appreciated getting to the airport before international flights early, but 2 hours early would have sufficed and definitely you don’t need to get to Calafate airport or Puerto Natales airport more than one hour in advance (2 hours early was way too much time). It felt like we were sitting for hours waiting for those flights. Others may have different preferences.
Hotels: We loved all of the hotels we stayed at. Weskar Lodge in Puerto Natales and Alto Calafate were our favorites. The pools and sauna at Alto Calafate after our 30 mile trek in Chalten was such a nice treat. It’s sort of away from the main town, but they have an hourly shuttle that takes you to and from the center of town. Weskar Lodge is also a bit outside of the center but we loved the 20-30min walks along the water to get into town.
For younger people like us wanting a more social lodging situation, staying in hostels in Chalten and Puerto Natales or even the major cities would have also been fun options. But we were really happy with the hotels Emi chose.
-We ended up booking a one-night stay at the Patagonia EcoDomes which was an absolute highlight. From the Domes you can hike directly to Lagos de los Tres and then hike down to town and they had a car that could bring your belongings down El Chalten for free. We had already paid for a private transfer, but this was a great option! They can also call you a cab easily so a transfer isn’t necessary if you want timing to be flexible.
Lagos de Los Tres
Mini Trekking in Calafate
Kayaking in Puerto Natales
(We also heard Paddle boarding with PatagoniaPaddle (you can find on IG) is an amazing activity although we didn’t do it.)
Hiking Base Torres in Torres del Paine (and our guide Claudia was amazing)
Tango show in Buenos Aires
All of the food in Puerto Natales- we were happy to have so many nights there!
We enjoyed the second hike in Torres del Paine through guanaco territory because we saw cave paintings and learned a bit more about the natives and the geology, but it was a very mild hiking day (~6 miles) and some may have preferred a larger trek in the park. We were tired after hiking Base Torres so it was actually nice! Also, Gabriella our guide was fantastic
Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers was also a really fun boat excursion. We also heard great things about the Grey Glacier boat excursion.
Overall AMAZING trip with basically no issues. Thank you all so much!!